Self-Care for the Self-Employed Entrepreneur

Monday morning ever find you low on enthusiasm? Here you are self employed, generally a good thing but some days you feel the weight of all the decisions on your shoulders. Having your own business entails enormous responsibility, strength and focus. One of the glories of being self employed is you are in charge and making your own decisions, not having to answer to someone else. One of the draw backs of owning a business is how all consuming a business can be. For example, it can be hard to know when to quit at the end of the day. When you worked for someone else it was easier to leave the office at 5 o’clock, then it is to leave the garage or den or office you work in now.

Burn out is a major concern for the self employed. As a therapist it is not uncommon for me to hear clients say they are running out of steam and enthusiasm when it comes to their business, especially when they are working alone at home. For many, a little support and camaraderie will to wonders to reinvigorate their spirit and get them back on track.

Recently, I caught my first episode of The Nanny on television. A British woman comes into the home of a family in need of parenting help. In this family both parents were involved in the family business and neither one could set clear boundaries and priorities. The two young boys were out of control. The two year old was expert at not going to sleep and his exhausted parents were up for hours locked in battle with him and losing sleep. When the mother was supposed to be at home with the children the phone was constantly ringing, often times it was her husband needing information. It does not take an expert to see the disaster course the family was on.

When you no longer can eat on the dining room table, when you realize at the end of the day you haven’t taken time for a break, it is time to refocus your energy and your priorities. Ask yourself: At what cost am I running this business? Could it cost me my marriage? Are my children screaming for attention? When was the last time I took a day off? I don’t remember what a weekend is anymore! If you resonate with any of these statements may be a sign that you are in need of support.

1. If you have a business plan, review your goals. If you don’t have a plan, make one, detailing a simple idea of what you want to accomplish and on what time line. Are my goals reasonable, have I given myself enough time to meet my goals? Am I on schedule or even ahead of schedule? As a therapist I know one of the core elements of depression is setting unattainable or unrealistic expectations. Break down your plans into simple steps and go one step at a time. If you have a difficult time identifying goals, a coach or therapist can help.

2. Are you working alone? Do you feel isolated or lonely? Consider joining a support group or business network. The opportunity to speak with others is very valuable. You are not the only one going through these struggles, learn from others. No need to reinvent the wheel, others may have figured out solutions to the same problem you are facing.

3. Schedule your day so you will have breaks and meals. And keep to your schedule, know when you start your day, what you would like to accomplish and when you will close down for the day. If you are the business or a key player, your health and well being are of vital importance to the success of your business.

4. When the day is over, don’t answer the phone, don’t read the fax or e-mail that just came in. Relax, enjoy and feel good about the day. If your were unable to scratch off all the items on your list today, forgive yourself, make tomorrows list and close the door(even if it is the door in your mind)

5. If you work at home consider renting a small office space to help establish a separation between home and work, separate phone numbers and even mailing address or P.O.Box will further clarify business from home.

Laney Kibel LCSW is a therapist in Portland. In addition to counseling individuals and couples, Laney will be starting a support group for entrepreneurs. For more information call (503) 781- 3900 or [email protected]

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